Annals of the Duchy - Chapter 1

In this chapter are gathered what I have been able to learn of the history of our people from before we migrated to Tarusia. This is a difficult subject for the intervening years have dulled recollections and some major changes have been forgotten. The Mor originated in the north eastern parts of Marivar, specifically from the coastal regions known as Murragh and Morrin. The former giving rise to those who settled to the North of the Morran Mountains; the latter to the South. The total of these areas was not much larger than the area now occupied by The Moran Duchy and Houghland and thus a key aspect of the way the migration played out was to separate what had been a fairly compact and cohesive society into a much more widely spread one.
  In preparation for producing this history I have travelled widely in the areas that the Mor settled and have sought the stories and histories of the various parts of our people taking the most common details as the most reliable (and noting that some differences are to be expected between those originating in Murragh and Morrin). As my study here is the history of our Duchy my focus is primarily on the customs and practices of Morragh, though the events of the last 30 years show than knowledge of the specifics of Morrin is not without value.
  Firstly we must consider the wider place of our peoples within Marivar. Our ancestors were part of an Empire which devolved power and responsibility to local dynasties. The Empire's centre was on eastern coast some 30 days journey away by land; longer by sea. In consequence of this we saw little direct involvement from the Empire: the northern provinces were the breadbasket of the empire and we also provided shipping and some naval forces to the empire's strength. From what I have been able to learn, the Empire's yoke was not particularly burdensome until the years immediately preceding the migration, which I will deal with later in this chapter.
  Within Murragh the power of the Empire was expressed through the 8 noble houses. These sharing the administration and profits - a situation not dissimilar to the relationship between the Duke, the Tithars and the Duchy, though the families' estates were distributed across the province rather than grouped together. Though in principle the land belonged to the Emperor, in practice it belonged to the noble families and the nominal leadership moved between the heads of the noble houses every five years.
  In general people were tied to the area of their birth; whether rural estate or town; the exception to this was the mariner caste, who moved freely around the coasts their families settled in one place or another for a few months or years as they saw fit, and when prosperous enough to own a significant vessel often lived entirely on that vessel. This is significant as the migration saw most of the farmers moving to the northern plains of the eastern end of our peninsula; the further west the greater the proportion of mariners involved in the settlement. But I get ahead of myself to speak of the migration at this point.
  Our forefather's beliefs of the world were markedly different to ours; the emperor was worshipped as a god along with local deities, for town or province or even estate, but the fall of the empire and the relocation meant that we came here without those gods and the rites and sacrifices fell into disuse. The gods of the sea and its resources have continued to be regarded by out coastal cousins but for us, who settled in the Duchy, far from the sea these too became forgotten. Our gods today are the ones that we have found in this land, for in the first few decades after migration it was generally believed in the Duchy that the gods had been left behind.
  Nevertheless the similarities in beliefs and customs between us and our cousins are significant and cannot be overlooked. What this means I cannot say for I am no expert on this - does it reflect something inherrent in people; a divine unity deeper than the names and labels we use or something else? I leave the subject to others to study.
  More definite is the story of our people's involvement with Tarusia.
  The Morrin Sea which separates Marivar from Tarusia is some 8 day walks wide with no islands other than a few on the coasts of the continents. With this separation and little tradition of sea travel beyond coast hugging there no great chance of accidental discovery though doubtless occasional vessels lost at sea were driven by storms from one to the other. It was only some 300 years before the migration that ship building in Murragh reached the point that the annual migrations of fish and whales in the northern ocean could be followed to the point that these seamen became aware of the presence of the lands that their descendants were to colonise. The mariners of Murragh extended their seasonal cruises alonng the north coast, landing periodically to process their catches and maintain their boats. At such distances from their homelands meat and fish were either dried for transport or eaten for sustenance with fish and whale oil also produced and bones taken for tool making and decorative arts.
  These were temporary encampments with the fleet sailing from Marivar in the spring, following the shoals until late summer and then returning in the autumn collecting the processed materials and their companions. During these early years there were no permanent settlements due to the need to return to pay taxes and take oaths during the winter. Our ancestors had few dealings with the indigenous Taru, who had deep suspicion of the sea and its bounty; and as we kept to marine work and showed no interest in the herds that they followed relations between the peoples were at this stage distant in the areas used by the mariners of Murragh.
  The mariners of Morrin made explorations alonng the coast in the other direction going beyond the Morran Mountains and finding abundant forests which they started to exploit for ship's timbers. The size and type of these trees was so suited to shipmaking that they became the experts of the empire in ship construction and this was the basis of the establishment of the first permenent settlement of our people in Tarusia - the port of Orris. The importance of the ships that could be built here to the coastal trade of the empire was such that its citizens obtained the right to pay their taxes and take their oaths there rather than in their homeland. Thus the port became established and permanent with families moving there to pursue their trades.
  This influx appears to have brought some of our diseases to Tarusia, in a way that the temporary settlements on the north coast either did not, or did to a much lesser degree, and over the decades following the settlement of Orris and the exploration of the forests for the best trees it was noticed that the indigenous Taru were growing fewer for they seemed to be much more susceptible to the Sweats and the Staggers than we, whose ancestors had lived for many generations with these illnesses.
  So, the people of Murragh and Morrin discovered much about the lands of Tarusia and as the empire came under pressure (see below) some undertook more thorough explorations of the areas further in land.
  Thus we have seen how our ancestors knowledge of Tarusia had increased over the years. We now need to look at the drivers for their migration. Paradoxically, the first point to consider is why it did not happen sooner. True, Orris was established some forty years before the migration started but it was the only significant permanent settlement established by the people of Morragh and Morrin. Two factors were at work here with the secular and religious government of the Empire. Settling in another continent was tantamount to abandoning their gods and this was something that few were willing to do while faith in the gods persisted - the defeats in the run up to the migration cast sufficient doubt on the matter that this objection became a minor one (in general it affected when groups migrated rather than whether). The second factor was the Empire's organisation and government which sought to retain control over the people and required a swearing of oaths and a paying of taxes in person during the winter. Orris was a sufficiently profitable enclave, and sufficiently large, that it was given special dispensation to manage this locally under senior members of the Emperor's court - but only for the recognised citizens and with hostages given to lost power this limitation was lifted as I will describe below.
  The Empire had been broadly stable for many years with control of most of the continent of Marivar. The exception to this was the southern desert region of Tambok which had little that the Empire wanted and gave occupation to those of a military orientation who might otherwise be a destabilising force. During the period of peace the military's capabilities had been kept limited and whilst enough to keep the tribes of Tambok confined to their homelands and to provide internal security they were not the force that had conquered the Empire.
  Thus when a hostile land appeared to the west the Empire had problems. It is important to note that word "appeared": from what I have been able to learn, there had been empty sea there before and now suddenly there was a large land. A large land with many people of great power - I have not been able to establish the nature of this but they rapidly occupied a large part of southern Marivar with the Empire unable to strike back. Regardless of the reasons (I have not sought these out as it is unlikely to be significant to the story of the Duchy) this resulted in migration of people into the remaining parts of the empire with those coming from closer to the empire's capital ever taking the best and displacing their predecessors. The increasing density of the population and shortage of land made the Empire amenable to settling of other parts in the way that it had not previously - for this ensured that the displacements resulted in local unrest rather than full blown civil war.
  It was during this period that the scouting activities mentioned earlier aquired new urgency and the lands of Tarusia became better known to our ancestors. Thus they had the knowledge and the opportunity to increase their shipping and begin the migration. The migration was drawn out over several decades as the pressures on land increased, with the noble families establishing estates around the old seasonal encampments which grew into towns and increasing the settlement area in land, driving the original inhabitants into the hill and mountain regions. The migration from Murragh and Morrin came to a halt when those then populating our lands were either incommers still attached to the residual empire or sufficiently interbred with them as to see us as more foreign than the incomers. It must also be admitted that they have to this day a poor opinion of us for having "run away" and despite the proximity of the lands there is now little trade, save via Orris.
  This completes the first chapter of my work, bringing us to the point that our ancestors had come to Tarusia; though not to the Duchy. In the next chapter we shall look at the years between the start of the migration and the formation of the Duchy.


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